back to article SWELLING moons of ice dwarf Pluto snapped by NASA spy-probe

NASA’s New Horizons camera-probe has sent back humanity's first closeup images of Pluto as the spacecraft heads toward the ice world at a blistering 31,000 miles an hour. The photos, taken 126 million miles from the dwarf planet, show a dot along with its largest moon, Charon. The aim of the mission is to better map Pluto …

  1. Matthew Smith

    Its a planet.

    Its a planet. There are 9 planets in the solar system, and always have been. Pluto has moons, and its exactly where it should be according to the titus-bodes law.

    Its not just an ice world, its a planet.

    Nah, nah. Not listening.

    1. hplasm
      Thumb Up

      Re: Its a planet.

      And anyone who says otherwise is a dwarf-scientist. Nyah!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its a planet.

      Actually I think you will fins it IS a vertically challenge planet.

      1. Fungus Bob

        Re: vertically challenged

        Shirley you mean "circumferentially challenged"...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its a planet.

      Like most things in life there is no clear dividing line, its all shades - quite literally for a lot of planets and moons - of grey. Where an arbitrary line is drawn really makes little difference.

      1. stucs201

        Re: Its a planet.

        Dear IAU,

        Your Mom thought I was big enough.

        Yours sincerely, Pluto.

      2. hplasm

        Re: Its a planet.

        "Where an arbitrary line is drawn really makes little difference."

        Er, the Equator is here- wants a word with you...

        1. PacketPusher

          Re: Its a planet.

          Where the equator is drawn is not arbitrary. It is the great circle in the plane of rotation. The prime meridian is arbitrary.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Its a planet.

            "The prime meridian is arbitrary."

            No it's not. The French (and everyone else) were just wrong!

            The Yanks still don't really accept it. Look at their world maps. Just Weird!

      3. Bob Dole (tm)

        Re: Its a planet.

        >>Like most things in life there is no clear dividing line, its all shades - quite literally for a lot of planets and moons - of grey. Where an arbitrary line is drawn really makes little difference.

        So there are 50 of them we need to consider?

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Its a planet.

      Since dwarf in this context is an adjective, the term "dwarf planet" absolutely makes it a planet for any English speaker. One has to assume that the IAU boffins who dreamt up the term were leaving themselves some wiggle room.

    5. Sarah Balfour

      Re: Its a planet.

      But Eris also has a moon (Dysnomia), and it's around 27% more massive than Pluto so, if the criteria are size and satellites, then why has the argument for its reclassification never arisen then, eh, eh…? Riddle me that then, Smartarse!

      Ya can't, can ya…?!

      But there appear to be some who'd agree; Pluto's Wikipedia entry is locked to all but admin, and I assume it's because there are some who'd like to see it regain its planetary status and edit its entry to reflect that.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Laurel Kornfeld

          Re: Its a planet.

          Not necessary. The ecliptic is not the path of the Sun; it's the path the Earth takes around the Sun. Why does an object have to follow Earth's path to be a planet? Is Earth the center of anything? Many giant exoplanets orbit their stars in orbits far more elliptical than Pluto's.

      2. Laurel Kornfeld

        Re: Its a planet.

        Pluto's Wikipedia being locked is a travesty and an affront to free speech. It is why I will never contribute any money to Wikipedia.

        Eris is a planet too. Arguments have been made for its planet status since its discovery. To those of us who prefer a geophysical planet definition, which does not require an object to "clear its orbit" to be a planet, Eris is a planet because it is a non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star.

        Only four percent of the IAU voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition led by New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern. Why does Wikipedia have a problem acknowledging that this issue is an ongoing debate?

    6. Laurel Kornfeld

      Re: Its a planet.

      Yes, Pluto is a planet because dwarf planets are simply a subclass of planets. That was the intention of New Horizons Principal Investigator when he first coined the term dwarf planet back in 1991. Our solar system actually has 13 planets and counting--14 if Charon is considered a binary companion planet to Pluto. These are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, (Charon), Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.

      1. asdf

        Re: Its a planet.

        Honestly as a Yank I couldn't give a shit about Pluto and Eris either really. Sedna and its orbit going 900 AU away from the sun on the other hand is very interesting. That one is unlike all the others (so far) and it will probably tell us more about what's in the immediate neighborhood of our solar system and about its history than all the other planetoids (or whatever) combined.

        1. Jedit Silver badge

          "Honestly as a Yank I couldn't give a shit about Pluto and Eris either really"

          This comes as no surprise - most Yanks couldn't give a shit about 95% of the planet they're standing on, let alone any others.

          These celestial designations are silly and discriminatory. On a universal scale, we're all just a bunch of rocks huddling around the same fire.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its a planet.

      Titus-Bodes law? Good grief you are behind the times, that hypothesis was discounted a long while ago.

      Moons? Some asteroids have moons, but no-one was suggested that thet are planets. Also some planets do not have moons (Venus & Mercury for starters) but no-one has suggested that they are not planets.

      With the discovery of dozens of Kuiper-Belt Objects (KBOs), some of which are larger than Pluto, the astromical community decided that they had to get a proper definition of what is a "planet" - up to then there was no definition, just an informal agreement. Rightly or wrongly the definition they eventually came up with excludes Pluto, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    8. Wilseus

      Re: Its a planet.

      [Pluto is] exactly where it should be according to the titus-bodes law.

      No it isn't, and neither is Neptune.

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge

        Re: Its a planet.

        [Pluto is] exactly where it should be according to the titus-bodes law.

        No it isn't, and neither is Neptune.

        Neptune should be where Pluto is. I wonder what bumped Neptune into the wrong place? I wonder if Pluto is a remnant of that event?

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Thumb Up


    More please.

  3. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    Can't wait for the pics in spring.

    I can't comprehend how complicated it must be to travel outwards from here, for 3 billion miles and manage to meet everything else out there which is all moving at around 31,000 or faster.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can't wait for the pics in spring.

      Not very complicated at all! It's not like they've got to negotiate the M25, take into account variable queuing traffic, variable speed limits and unpredictable accidents. That along with delays for sudden pee stops from the smallest, having to go back after five minutes because one of the kids pieces of homework was somehow forgotten and then missing a turning due to an argument breaking out in the back of the car.......

      On top of that I bet no-one has been asking "are we there yet for the last 3 billion miles.......

      Getting to Pluto seems fairly straightforward in comparison.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Construction Shack - C.D. Simak

  5. PCS

    "...and its exactly where it should be according to the titus-bodes law."

    95.75% error for Pluto.

    1. Matthew Smith

      Not if Pluto is placed on Neptunes track. Then it fits in at 0.02% accuracy. But is anyone saying that its Neptune thats the imposter? No, they're picking on poor, little Pluto out at the end of the line, out in the cold.

      The IAU are a bunch of bully plutocrats.

      1. Colin 4

        neptucrats, more like - surely plutocrats would have gone the other way ;-)

  6. Chris G

    When I were a lad

    Reading the likes of Jet Ace Logan (RAF in Spaaaace!) and Dan Dare, we all thought by the 21st century we would be zipping around in Spaaaace and mining asteroids or living on Mars, which makes the achievements of teams like New Horizons all the more remarkable.

    They don't have a handy two man rocket they can jump into and whizz off to Pluto they have to do a lot of HARD sums and basically use very complicated ballistics to get to where they are going, more amazing is the fact that after 3 billion miles and 9 years they are on time and on target.

    Why aren't they running our governments?

    Can't wait to see the pics later in the year.

    1. DiViDeD

      Why aren't they running our governments?

      Because to be in government requires a persion who is 'special', and one thing you can be sure of is that none of these guys ever rode the short bus.

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first

      Re: When I were a lad

      Ten thumbs up for the Jet Ace Logan reference.

  7. Laurel Kornfeld

    "Ice dwarf" is probably not the best description of a planet that is estimated to be 70 percent rock.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge

    Yeah, well what to know is....

    Why does Goofy wear pants and Pluto doesn't?

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    IT Angle

    This is a pictur from about 38 AU away from the Earth.

    I think most peoples mobiles would have trouble picking up a cell tower 2 miles away.

  10. Bunbury

    Message from Pluto

    I'm a planet and so's my wife!

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